Brighton Belle by @SaraSheridan #review @LittleBrownUK

Brighton Belle

My friend Sandra from Beauty Balm blog has been recommending the Mirabelle Bevan series to me for ages. She kindly loaned me the first two and I have finally got around to reading the first one which I thoroughly enjoyed.

I heard the author, Sara Sheridan at the Edinburgh Book Festival festival recently where she spoke about Mirabelle Bevan’s origin. Her father recalled seeing a well-dressed woman on Brighton Beach in the 1950s dodging the deckchair attendant. He always wondered why, when it looked as though she didn’t need to. The author decided to write a short story with a possible explanation and Mirabelle Bevan was born.

From the back of the book

1951. Brighton. With the war over and the Nazis brought to justice at Nuremberg, Mirabelle Bevan (Secret Service, retired) thinks her skills are no longer required. After her lover’s death she retires to the seaside to put the past behind her and takes a job at a debt collection agency run by the charismatic Big Ben McGuigan. But when the case of Romana Laszlo – a pregnant Hungarian refugee – comes in, Mirabelle soon discovers that her specialist knowledge is vital. With enthusiastic assistance from insurance clerk Vesta Churchill, they follow a mysterious trail of gold sovereigns and corpses that only they can unravel.

I think it was the author herself at that book festival session who described this series of books as ‘cosy mysteries’. I have to confess that I didn’t really know what defined a cosy mystery. On looking it up, I discovered it is a mystery story often set in a small community, where the crime is solved by amateur detectives who are often women and there doesn’t tend to be much emphasis on violence. Mirabelle certainly fits this category as she works in a debt collection agency and is not a detective or private investigator. She put me in mind of a younger and infinitely more glamorous Miss Marple. She’s a sharp, quick-witted woman who doesn’t seem afraid to bend the law more than a little to find out what she needs to know.

Set just post-war there were still echoes of the horrors of what people experienced in during the war throughout the story and links to the past. There were experiences which were hinted at but that the characters did not talk about. I am very intrigued to know what Mirabelle really did in the war as I don’t believe she was only a secretary in Whitehall. I would really like to know more about that and her relationship with her deceased lover Jack Duggan. The good news  for me then is that there are, to date, five more books in the series.

I must mention the racism experienced by Vesta Churchill, a black woman who works with Mirabelle. It was jarring and quite shocking to see how she was regarded and treated. I think that she and Mirabelle are going to make a smart and sassy team though.

Brighton Belle is a well paced and well plotted mystery story, with plenty of danger and excitement. With its combination of 50s glamour and style and two female protagonists, I can see it’s the start of a series I’m going to really enjoy.

Brighton Belle was published by Constable (Little Brown) in January 2016 and is available in all formats. You can buy it at all good bookshops or order a copy online here: Brighton Belle



Journey into the Mind of a Madman: #GuestPost from #Author @SherylBrowne @choclituk

I’m really pleased to welcome Sheryl Browne back to the blog. Regular blog visitors will know that I am a big fan of Sheryl’s writing having enjoyed both her romantic novels and her much grittier crime novels. Today she is telling a bit about herself, her novel After She’s Gone and takes us into the mind of Patrick, the villain of the story, in an extract from the book.

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Taking a Journey into the Mind of a Madman: Guest Post and Extract from After She’s Gone by Sheryl Browne

Hi Joanne! Thank you so much for inviting me to join you on Portobello Book Blog to share a little about myself and After She’s Gone – Book 1 in the DI Matthew Adams thrillers, now out in print!

So, what can I say about me that’s not too boring? Okay, here goes. I’m a keen boater. I do strange things occasionally like skydiving from 20,000 feet. I’m a mother and I also foster disabled dogs, most of which I inevitably end up keeping because I fall in love with each and every one of them. I write contemporary fiction and psychological thrillers. I’m a member of the Crime Writers’ Association, the Romantic Novelists’ Association and have several books published, along with two short stories in Birmingham City University anthologies where I completed my MA in Creative Writing, finally. Life, what can I say? 

I’m often asked what prompted me to switch to the ‘DARK SIDE’ and write psychological thrillers. In all honesty, I’m not sure I have switched. I’ve always been fascinated by what shapes people and whatever genre I write in I like to strip away the layers and, hopefully, share with readers a little of what lies beneath the surface. I find there is usually a bad guy or girl in all of my books. Sometimes the hero will start out as seemingly bad, which gives him room to grow. I think in writing psychological thrillers, I’m exploring the darker psyche of some of my characters, looking at the nature vs. nurture conundrum. Is badness in the genes? Is it brain function or childhood experience that creates a monster? A combination of all three?

So, am I ‘writing what I know?’ In short, no. I’d find that terribly stifling. We have a world of information at our fingertips nowadays. We can travel anywhere. If you ‘feel’ a character, if that character is calling to you, you don’t need to shy away from writing about a job, era, or situation that might challenge your experience. You can research it. A writer’s mind thrives on exploration. Every scenario, every face, every place tells a story. A glimpsed situation, an argument between a couple, for instance, a verbal ‘slanging match’ in the street, and you have your inspiration for a story, upon which your overzealous writer’s mind will weave fictional facts. You simply can’t help yourself. So there it is. I have a need to explore the human psyche – and apparently I also have a scary insight into the mind of a psychopath. Thank you, Rachel at Rachel’s Random Reads for that! I think.  

Are you ready to take a journey into the mind of a madman? Please find the blurb and a short excerpt below if you fancy finding out a little more.

After She’s Gone – from the back of the book

He’s killed your child and kidnapped your wife. What would YOU do?

There’s evil and then there’s Patrick Sullivan. A drug dealer, pimp and murderer, there are no depths to which Patrick would not sink, and Detective Inspector Matthew Adams has found this out in the most devastating way imaginable. 

When Patrick’s brother is shot dead in a drug bust gone wrong, the bitter battle between the two men intensifies, and Matthew finds it increasingly difficult to hold the moral high ground. All he wants is to make the pimping scum suffer the way he did … the way Lily did.

But being at war with such a depraved individual means that it’s not just Matthew who’s in danger. Patrick has taken a lot from Matthew, but he hasn’t taken everything – and now he wants everything.

Excerpt – After She’s Gone

‘Not very gentlemanly, keeping ladies hanging around, Adams, is it?’ Patrick watched with interest, as the copper turned a pale shade of white. Reeling on his feet, he was, poor sod. He actually looked as if he might pass out. Didn’t take him long to recover himself, though. Patrick watched on as Adams pulled himself up, bracing his shoulders in that bloody annoying Bruce Willis nothing-gets-to-me way he had. It obviously did though. He might be trying to keep a grip, but the little tic going in his cheek was a dead giveaway. Patrick had noticed it when Adams had paid him a visit in the nick. Seen it many times, when the pathetic little runt had tried to stand up to him as a kid. Most recently, before the bastard had kicked him to the floor like a dog, for which the copper was about to get payback. Oh, yes, his fuse was lit all right. The man was a ticking time bomb, far too reactive to be on the force, in Patrick’s humble opinion.

Patrick barely had time to free himself of the girl before the copper exploded.

‘You fucking animal!’ he seethed, lunging towards him.

But Patrick was ready. ‘Down!’ He levelled the shotgun, ready to blast Adams to kingdom come if he didn’t back off.

Clearly realising he might be at a disadvantage, Adams stopped, his expression pure thunder, his chest heaving. Oh, dear. Was that a little wheeze Patrick could hear in there? Quietly amused, he noted how Adams was struggling to control his breathing, another giveaway as to the copper’s high state of anxiety. Patrick probably knew the signs better than Adams did.

‘I said, down, Adams.’ Lowering the gun, Patrick indicated the floor, which is where he wanted Adams. No one, but no one, constantly refers to Patrick Sullivan as an animal and gets away with it.

‘Unless you want your wife and Snow White to see your blood splattered all over the walls, that is?’

Adams didn’t budge. Taking slow breaths, he stayed exactly where he was, his fist clenched at his side and in his eyes … pure murder. Patrick felt the tiniest flicker of apprehension run through him.

‘We can play the waiting game if you like, Adams.’ He made sure to hold his gaze. ‘But I’m not sure your good lady will be very keen on the idea. Are you?’

Patrick’s gaze flicked in the direction of the man’s wife.

‘Do it,’ he ordered. ‘Face front and get down on your knees, copper, if you value her life.’

‘You bastard.’ Adams took another laboured breath and ran his hands over his face. Then, glancing heavenward, finally, he did as instructed.

Got him, Patrick thought, hugely satisfied that the copper seemed to be getting the message. Patrick had the upper hand now. This time, it would be Adams defenceless on the floor, while he broke his fucking jaw. Quid pro quo, as far as Patrick was concerned.

Trailer Link

DI Matthew Adams series:

Buy Links: DI Matthew Adams Thrillers

AFTER SHE’S GONEHe’s killed your child and kidnapped your wife. What would YOU do?

SINS OF THE FATHERWhat if you’d been accused of one of the worst crimes imaginable?

DEADLY INTENTTormented to the edge of sanity … 

Sheryl Browne brings you edgy, sexy contemporary fiction and psychological thrillers.

A member of the Crime Writers’ Association, Romantic Novelists’ Association and awarded a Red Ribbon by The Wishing Shelf Book Awards, Sheryl has several books published and two short stories in Birmingham City University anthologies, where she completed her MA in Creative Writing.

Recommended to the publisher by the WH Smith Travel fiction buyer, Sheryl’s contemporary fiction comes to you from multi-award winning Choc Lit. 

Author Links

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon | Amazon US | Pinterest

Choc Lit




The Little Bakery on Rosemary Lane by Ellen Berry #extract @AvonBooksUK @FionaGibson

The Little Bakery on Rosemary Lane: The perfect feel-good read by [Berry, Ellen]

Baking and reading – two of my passions wrapped up in one book – what’s not to like? Fiona Gibson writing as Ellen Berry returns to Rosemary Lane in Burley Bridge and this time stops off at the Bakery. Read on to find a delicious extract and if it whets your appetite you can order a copy here. (Sorry, I’ll stop with the puns now!)

Extract from Chapter Two

‘You don’t fancy a weekend up at my sister’s, do you?’ she ventured as they were handed dessert menus.

‘Uh, what for?’ he asked.

‘Remember I mentioned it? She’s having a party at her bookshop . . .’

‘Oh, yeah – what’s that all about again?’

‘Remember I told you she’d spent her share of her inheritance from Mum on buying the dilapidated shop next door, so she can expand her empire?’ She beamed at him hopefully.

‘Er, yeah,’ Sean said vaguely, clearly not remembering at all. To him, Yorkshire was just part of that mysterious territory called ‘The North’ – supposedly cold and uninviting, inhospitable to human life. Many of her colleagues were of the same opinion. Roxanne found it amusing and quite baffling, this fear of venturing further than a couple of hours’ drive up the M1.

‘Well, she’s had the two places knocked into one,’ she continued, ‘and she’s having a party to celebrate the opening of the new, double-sized bookshop.’ She paused. She had mentioned this too – several times. ‘So, d’you fancy coming up with me?’

He frowned. ‘What, to your sister’s? C’mon, Rox – you don’t need me there.’

Frustration bubbled inside her now, but she tried to keep her tone light. It was his birthday, after all, and the last thing she wanted was a tetchy exchange. ‘I don’t need you there, but I’d like you to be. Why is that so weird to you?’

‘Oh, baby, it’s not weird.’ He touched her hand across the table.

She forced a smile, trying to ignore the slight prickling sensation behind her eyes. ‘So, why are you so reluctant to come to Yorkshire with me?’

‘Because there’s nothing there?’ His crooked grin indicated that he was teasing.

‘How can you say that?’

‘Honey, I’m joking . . .’

‘Don’t you want to see where I grew up?’ She paused to sip her wine. ‘Aren’t you curious?’

‘Rox, darling.’ He squeezed her hand tightly. ‘You told me you couldn’t wait to get away – that once you’d been offered your first London job you made a little chart to stick on the inside of your wardrobe, where you’d cross off the days . . .’

‘Okay,’ she conceded, ‘but it still has charm – it’s beautiful, actually – and I’d love you to meet Della and see her shop. She’s put her heart and soul into it . . .’

 ‘I know, it sounds amazing . . .’

‘Shall we go, then?’

‘Uh, sure, babe. We can go sometime. Just leave it with me, okay?’


Follow the rest of the tour at the blogs below

Bakery Blog Tour

Back of the book details

If you want to move forward, sometimes you have to go back …

Prepare to fall in love with beautiful village of Burley Bridge.

Growing up in a quiet Yorkshire village, Roxanne couldn’t wait to escape and find her place in the world in London. As a high-powered fashion editor she lives a glamorous life of perennial singlehood – or so it seems to her sister Della. But when Roxanne gets her heart broken by a fashion photographer, she runs away, back to Della’s welcoming home above her bookshop in Burley Bridge.

But Burley Bridge, Roxanne discovers, is even quieter than she remembered. There’s nothing to do, so Roxanne agrees to walk Della’s dog Stanley. It’s on these walks that Roxanne makes a startling discovery: the people who live in Burley Bridge are, well, just people – different from the fashion set she’s used to, but kind and even interesting. Michael, a widower trying to make a go of a small bakery, particularly so. Little by little, cupcake by cupcake, Roxanne and Michael fall into a comforting friendship.

Could there be a life for Roxanne after all, in the place she’s spent 46 years trying to escape?

Little White Lies and Butterflies by @SuzieTullett #extract @bombshellpub

Little White Lies and Butterflies by [Tullet, Suzie]

I really enjoyed Suzie Tullett’s The Trouble With Words (you can read my review here) and am pleased to be able to share an extract from her latest novel Little White Lies and Butterflies. This is published by Bombshell Books and is available in both paperback and e-book formats. I do have a copy of the book but haven’t had time yet to read it. Watch out for my review in the next few weeks. If you’d like to buy a copy you can do that online here: Little White Lies and Butterflies

First of all – what’s the book about?

Lydia knows first-hand that ‘having it all’ isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be.

As far as she’s concerned, when it comes to job versus family, it’s a case of one or the other. And whilst most women her age have spent years climbing the corporate ladder, she’s made a career out of bagging her perfect man. Now, nearly thirty and still single, Lydia wonders if she’d made the right choice. 

Realising the time has come to take stock, she goes against her family’s wishes and decides to travel, in the hope of finding a new direction. At least that’s the plan.

So when Sam comes along, she decides to tell a little white lie, re-inventing herself as a professional chef – not exactly the best new identity for a woman who can’t cook. But the truth can’t stay hidden for long and when her family show up unexpectedly things go from bad to worse…

Can Lydia find love? Will she ever learn to cook? 

Little White Lies and Butterflies is a heart-warming comedy about finding your place in the world.

Now read on for an extract from the very beginning of the book


From outside the dance circle, you sing lots of songs.

‘That’s it!’ I announced, having just landed at Mum and Dad’s house for our customary Sunday lunch gathering. ‘My life as I know it is officially over!’

I paused, waiting for that all important condoling response. Daft enough to expect at least a modicum of sympathy from within the bosom of my family, I quickly realised I should’ve known better. The Livingstons didn’t do compassion.

Instead, Mum appeared with a mass of cutlery, her arm outstretched as she thrust it my way. ‘If you wouldn’t mind,’ she said, pointing me in the direction of the dining room table.

Mum headed back into the kitchen, leaving me no choice but to get on with it. However, as I spotted Dad already seated and eager to eat, I did suppose the woman needed all the help she could get. Certain members of our family had always preferred a more observational role when it came to mucking in with the household chores; Dad was a prime example of this.

‘Oh, yes,’ I continued, regardless. ‘My dreams have finally been crushed, once and for all.’

I began laying the table, sucking myself in as I squeezed behind my somewhat unaccommodating father, a man more concerned about his belly’s grumblings than those of his beloved offspring.

‘Leaving me no choice but to think about joining a convent,’ I carried on. ‘Where I shall, no doubt, remain for the rest of my days.’

‘Things didn’t go too well, then?’ asked Mum, suddenly re-emerging with a stack of plates, eager to get the task at hand done and dusted.

Not that I minded her hurrying me along in my moment of distress. After all, everyone knew it paid dividends to have everything organised and in place before brother number one, Steve, and his wife, Jill, arrived with their not so adorable kids in tow. Although, to be fair, it wasn’t so much my sullen fifteen-year-old niece who created cause for concern – texting, tweeting Tammy, as I liked to refer to her – but more my yet to be diagnosed ADHD suffering little nephews, eight-year-old twins Luke and Johnny.

‘The trouble with you, Lydia,’ Dad joined in, although just to clarify, by that I mean with the conversation and not the workload, ‘is you’re far too picky.’

I watched him fold his arms as if he’d just imparted some piece of crucial advice. Obviously, a chap who wants nothing but the best for his one and only daughter. Although at the same time, I did have to acknowledge he wasn’t exactly the first person to suggest I might be setting my sights a little higher than was good for me. Unrealistic, for want of a better word.

‘Too ugly, you mean,’ corrected a rather bedraggled Pete, brother number two, as he appeared in the doorway – a man who needed to choose his words a little more carefully in my view, especially when I still had a couple of knives in my hand.

‘Do the words pot, kettle and black mean anything to you?’ I asked.

He plonked himself down at the table and, yet again, I found myself understanding why his long-suffering girlfriend had finally decided to kick him to the kerb, sending both him and his belongings back home to Mummy.

‘If you must know,’ I said, getting back to the more important issue under discussion. ‘This one met all the necessary criteria. He even asked if he could see me again.’

Mum suddenly stopped what she was doing. ‘So, what’s the problem, then?’

She had spent years listening to me recount the events of one disastrous date after another, all the while harping on about not settling for second best and bagging my perfect man by the time I hit thirty, so I understood her surprise. The way I’d gone on I should’ve been chomping at the bit to book the church for the wedding by now, or at least be sending the invitations out for the engagement party.

‘Well, I can’t be sure,’ I ventured. ‘But I think this one had some sort of medical condition.’

‘Ha!’ scoffed Pete. ‘I knew it. He was blind, wasn’t he? Had to be, to be seen out in public with you.’

I forced myself to put the last of the knives down. ‘No. Not exactly.’

Mum handed me half her pile of plates.

‘What do you mean? Not exactly?’ Dad laughed, as usual failing to take my quest at all seriously.

‘It wasn’t so much he couldn’t see,’ I said. ‘But more that he didn’t blink.’

I ignored Pete’s sniggering.

‘And did you ask him about it?’ enquired Mum. ‘It might’ve been curable.’

‘No, I didn’t!’ I replied. ‘Just because he wasn’t The One doesn’t mean I’d want to hurt the guy’s feelings.

‘Besides, that’s not the point, is it?’ I continued. ‘If I start making concessions now, just because time’s running out, all the other naff dates will have been for nothing. And in that case, I may as well have just married a fool like him from the off,’ I indicated to my not-so-darling brother, ‘and have been done with it years ago.’

Mum rolled her eyes, probably picturing me as an ageing spinster for the umpteenth time, spending my twilight years with nothing but a room full of cats for company. ‘I blame all those silly books you read,’ she said. ‘Putting ideas into young girls’ heads like they do. They’re just not realistic.’

‘I’ll tell you what’s not realistic,’ I replied. ‘Women who think they can have it all.’

Dad threw his head back and groaned. ‘Here we go again,’ he said, failing to realise he’d been proving my point since the day I was born.

‘Just look at you, Mum – you work all the hours God sends, then come home and run around after these two, because heaven forbid they should have to do something for themselves.’

‘There’s nothing wrong with a woman having a career, Lydia,’ she replied.

‘No, there isn’t. And there’s nothing wrong with having a family either. As for having both—despite what everyone preaches, what everyone’s always preached, you of all people know it isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be.’

Mum, Dad, and Pete stared at me like I’d lost the plot, while I looked from the crockery in Mum’s hands to the crockery in mine.

Still, in my experience it didn’t matter how often I tried to explain. When it came to the career versus family argument I knew they’d never be able to understand why, well into the twenty-first century, I’d find it acceptable to choose one over the other. Why I’d choose domesticity over a job.

Then again, thinking back to the couple of hours wasted on the latest, and as it turned out blinkingly challenged, conjugal contender, I had to admit this was something even I was beginning to question.

‘Not that I suppose it matters now, anyway,’ I reluctantly conceded. ‘Which is why you’ll all be pleased to know I’ve finally decided to take stock.’

The relief on Mum’s face was immeasurable, no doubt because she was glad to hear her next set of grandchildren weren’t going to be of the feline kind, after all. ‘Well that’s something, I suppose,’ she said.

‘Yes, well, before you all go and get your hopes up too much, just because I’m abandoning my mission doesn’t mean I’m about to enrol on some course and get myself a proper job, as you lot call it! No, siree. Instead, I’m going to banish myself to a distant land and head off into the wild blue yonder.’ I threw my arm out in a dramatic gesture. ‘A place where I can reassess my situation and decide where to go from here.’

‘I knew it was too good to be true,’ said Dad, obviously viewing my assertion as another of ‘those melodramatic tendencies’ he’d always thought me prone to.

‘What do you mean?’ asked Mum. ‘Take yourself off into the wild blue yonder?’

I got back to laying the table. ‘Well, if I’m not going to use my wedding fund for an actual wedding,’ I explained, ‘I might as well put it to some other good use. And I think a bit of time and space away from everything is just what I need right now.’

‘And when do you plan on going?’

‘As soon as…’

‘But you can’t,’ interrupted Mum. ‘What about your birthday? I’ve already ordered the cake.’

‘I’ve decided I’m not celebrating it this year,’ I replied. ‘Being thirty and still single isn’t exactly something I want to shout from the rooftops, is it? Not after everything I’ve been through.’

‘Now she really has lost her marbles,’ said Dad.

‘That’s if she ever had any to begin with,’ said Pete.

About the author


Suzie Tullett is an author of contemporary humorous fiction and romantic comedy. She has a Masters Degree in Television & Radio Scriptwriting and worked as a scriptwriter before becoming a full-time novelist. Her motto is to ‘live, laugh, love’ and when she’s not busy creating her own literary masterpieces, she usually has her head in someone else’s.

Suzie lives in a tiny hamlet in the middle of the French countryside, along with her husband and two Greek rescue dogs.

Facebook Author page Suzie Tullett Author
Website Suzie Tullett

Instagram suzie_tullett  


Flesh and Blood by Stephen McGann #review @simonschusterUK

Flesh and Blood: A History of My Family in Seven Maladies by [McGann, Stephen]

Flesh and Blood: A History of My Family in Seven Maladies, to give it its full title, is not your average celebrity autobiography. Stephen McGann will be well known to many for his acting roles over the years and most recently as Dr Turner in Call the Midwife. The book isn’t really an autobiography but more a combination of different subjects: part history, part autobiography, part medical references. Stephen McGann has written about his McGann ancestors from the time when they left Ireland during the Potato Famine, following them through living in desperate poverty in Liverpool, living and fighting in the world wars, right through to his own life and career.

I went to see Stephen McGann at the Edinburgh International Book Festival this year as, having researched my own family, I was really interested in the sound of the book. My daughter (also a Call the Midwife fan) came too and this was one of her first book festival events. It was honestly one of the best book festival events I’ve been to. Stephen McGann was so enthusiastic about his subject and fascinating to listen to. I have to be honest and say I hadn’t actually planned to get the book but after listening to him talking about the book and reading from it, my daughter and I both agreed that we just had to buy it and get it signed. I think it’s testimony to how engaging he was that none of the questions from the audience were about his acting career but all were about his book or genealogical research.


Ready to sign the book


This book grew out of Stephen McGann’s research into his family’s history looking at census and birth/marriage/death records. As anyone who has ever researched their own family will tell you, these give only the bare bones and is the start of a very addictive process. There are always more questions than answers when you look at a document such as a birth or death record or follow a family through the census. It gives no more than a snapshot of that moment. This book is an attempt to add more detail to the McGann family history. Looking at death records in particular from years gone by reveals illnesses which either no longer exist at all or can be treated now. The author has chosen seven illnesses or maladies which have affected his family over the years and used them to look at social history and the history of medicine during these times.

It’s a truly fascinating read. Each chapter begins with a medical explanation of the particular malady being looked at such as hunger, trauma or heart problems. Then the author moves on to looking at the history of a generation of his family through a particular record and examines the social issues affecting them at this time. Each chapter ends with a more personal testimony, relating the malady to someone in his family affected by it. For example, an uncle affected by hunger in a prisoner of war camp, the author’s own experience at Hillsborough, his brother in-law’s death at a young age. I was delighted and almost as excited as the author to read about a connection to the Titanic. Truly, as he says, genealogical gold! I found the history and testimony in the final chapter, looking at his marriage, the birth of his son and his wife’s illness very moving indeed. His love and pride for his wife and son come across strongly in this emotional and deeply personal chapter.

I don’t read non-fiction very often but thoroughly enjoyed this very well written and absorbing book. The author has brought together medical history, genealogical research, social history and personal experience in a fascinating book which for me was as much a page-turner as any thriller.

Flesh and Blood: A History of my Family in Seven Maladies is published by Simon & Schuster and is available now in hardback and as an e-book with the paperback to follow in January. You will find it in all good bookshops or you can order a copy online here.

From the back of the book

His family survived famine-ravaged Ireland in the 1850s.

His ancestors settled in poverty-rife Victorian Liverpool, working to survive and thrive.

Some of them became soldiers serving in Gallipoli and on the Western Front.

One would be the last man to step off the SS Titanic as it sank beneath the icy waves. He would testify at the inquest.

This is their story.

Stephen McGann is Doctor Turner in the BBC hit-drama series Call the Midwife.  

Flesh and Blood is the story of the McGann family as told through seven maladies – diseases, wounds or ailments that have afflicted Stephen’s relatives over the last century and a half, and which have helped mould him into what he now perceives himself to be. It’s the story of how health, or the lack of it, fuels our collective will and informs our personal narrative. Health is the motivational antagonist in the drama of our life story – circumscribing the extent of our actions, the quality of our character and the breadth of our ambition. Our maladies are the scribes that write the restless and mutating genome of our self-identity.

Flesh and Blood combines McGann’s passion for genealogy with an academic interest in the social dimensions of medicine – and fuses these with a lifelong exploration of drama as a way to understand what motivates human beings to do the things they do. He looks back at scenes from his own life that were moulded by medical malady, and traces the crooked roots of each affliction through the lives of his  ancestors, whose grim maladies punctuate the public documents or military records of his family tree. In this way he asks a simple, searching question: how have these maladies helped to shape the story of the person he is today?

Maria in the Moon by Louise Beech #giveaway @louisewriter @orendabooks

I’m delighted to give you the chance to win a copy of Louise Beech’s latest novel Maria in the Moon today. Louise’s last novel The Mountain in My Shoe was one of my top reads last year. Maria in the Moon is set in Hull following the devastating floods of 2007 and follows tells the story of Catherine Hope. Catherine volunteers at a Flood Crisis helpline and unlocks some dark secrets she has kept hidden away deep inside herself.

I have a paperback copy of the book to offer as a prize. This giveaway is open to UK entrants only and you can enter up until midnight on Thursday 14th September. I will contact the randomly drawn winner within 24 hours. Click the link below to enter – good luck!

Maria In the Moon – giveaway 

My thanks to Anne Cater and Orenda Books for offering a copy of this book to giveaway. Maria in the Moon is available now as an ebook and will be published in paperback on 30th September. You can order a copy online here: Maria in the Moon

From the back of the book

Long ago my beloved Nanny Eve chose my name. Then one day she stopped calling me it. I try now to remember why, but I just can’t.’ Thirty-two-year-old Catherine Hope has a great memory. But she can’t remember everything. She can’t remember her ninth year. She can’t remember when her insomnia started. And she can’t remember why everyone stopped calling her Catherine-Maria. With a promiscuous past, and licking her wounds after a painful breakup, Catherine wonders why she resists anything approaching real love. But when she loses her home to the devastating deluge of 2007 and volunteers at Flood Crisis, a devastating memory emerges … and changes everything. Dark, poignant and deeply moving, Maria in the Moon is an examination of the nature of memory and truth, and the defences we build to protect ourselves, when we can no longer hide…

Louise Beech

Author – Louise Beech

Angels in the Moonlight by @caimh McDonnell #giveaway @elaineofori

Angels in the Moonlight: A prequel to The Dublin Trilogy by [McDonnell, Caimh]

If, like me, you read and enjoyed the black humour and brilliant crime stories in Caimh McDonnell’s previous novels A Man With One of Those Faces and The Day That Never Comes, you will be delighted to meet Bunny McGarry again in this standalone prequel to those books. If you haven’t, this is a good place to start and today I am offering you the opportunity to win a copy of the book.

This giveaway is open internationally. If you live in the UK you choose between an e-copy or a paperback copy of the book. Outside the UK, your prize will be an e-book. You can enter up until midnight on Wednesday 13th September UK time and I will contact the winner within 24 hours. Click the link below to enter the prize draw.

Click here to enter the giveaway

From the back of the book

For Detective Bunny McGarry, life is complicated, and it is about to get more so.

It’s 1999 and his hard won reputation amongst Dublin’s criminal fraternity, for being a massive pain in the backside, is unfortunately shared by his bosses. His partner has a career-threatening gambling problem and, oh yeah, Bunny’s finally been given a crack at the big time. He’s set the task of bringing down the most skilled and ruthless armed robbery gang in Irish history. So the last thing he needs in his life is yet another complication.

Her name is Simone. She is smart, funny, talented and, well, complicated. When her shocking past turns up to threaten her and Bunny’s chance at a future, things get very complicated indeed. If the choice is upholding the law or protecting those he loves, which way will the big fella turn?

Angels in the Moonlight is a standalone prequel to Caimh McDonnell’s critically acclaimed Dublin Trilogy which melds fast-paced action with a distinctly Irish acerbic wit, and it is complicated.

Buying Links

Amazon UK

Amazon US

About the Author


Caimh McDonnell is an award-winning stand-up comedian, author and writer of televisual treats. Born in Limerick and raised in Dublin, he has taken the hop across the water and now calls Manchester his home.

He is a man who wears many hats. As well as being an author, he is an award-winning writer for TV, a stand-up comedian and ‘the voice’ of London Irish rugby club. His debut novel, A Man with One of Those Faces was released in 2016 and it is the first book of the Dublin Trilogy series. The follow-up, The Day That Never Come was published in 2017. Both books are fast-paced crime thrillers set in Caimh’s home town of Dublin and they are laced with distinctly Irish acerbic wit.

Caimh’s TV writing credits include The Sarah Millican Television Programme, A League of Their Own, Mock the Week and Have I Got News for You. He also works as a children’s TV writer and was BAFTA nominated for the animated series ‘Pet Squad’ which he created.

During his time on the British stand-up circuit, Caimh has firmly established himself as the white-haired Irishman whose name nobody can pronounce. He has brought the funny worldwide, doing stand-up tours of the Far East, the Middle East and Near East (Norwich).

Follow Caimh’s witterings on Twitter @Caimh

Facebook:  @CaimhMcD